In a new essay, an animal behaviorist suggests pets staying at home for long hours experience boredom.
Charlotte C. Burn, a biologist at The Royal Veterinary College of the University of London, wrote in the August issue of Animal Behaviour about how companion dogs and even farmed pigs feel boredom.
Why a Holistic Lifestyle Includes Mental Stimulation
Even if you feed your healthy pet an energetically balanced diet, bored pets will experience health problems.
Boredom reveals itself as increased drowsiness, restlessness, avoidance and sensation-seeking behavior, according to Burn.
What does this mean for your pet?
It could mean increased behavior problems such as chewing, digging, scratching or biting.
These symptoms may appear outward or could be self-inflicted.
A depressed person is not 100% healthy even if they are physically well – the same is true for your pet.
Even if your pup is physically healthy, his mental health is also important.
How Do You Know Your Pet Is Bored?
Bored pets will typically exhibit two types of behaviors – lethargy or acting out.
Some bored pets will sleep all day, not get excited when you come home, and refuse to play with their toys.
However, some lethargic pets may be ill and not bored.
Although senior pets need mental stimulation, many prefer to sleep most of the day.
Rule out physical health problems before diagnosing your pet with boredom.
Did you notice after you started working long hours your pup tore up your rug?
Or maybe after coming back from a long trip your cat scratched your couch, even if she never scratched the sofa before?
These behaviors represent what Burn refers to as “sensation-seeking behavior.”
Because your pet has no one to stimulate him, he seeks sensation stimulation on his own.
How to Cure Pet Boredom
Even if your pup can wait all day to go outside, consider hiring a dog walker to provide your pup with mental stimulation.
Going outside, experiencing new smells and a different environment is beneficial to your pup’s mental health.
There are also interactive toys, such as Playdate, which allow you to play with your pet remotely.
Playdate includes a remote-controlled ball allowing you to entertain your cat or dog from anywhere.
The ball includes a camera, allowing you to see your pet as well.
A pet sitter could also benefit a young cat.
Just having someone stop by for a 30 minutes during the middle of the day to check on and play with kitty could help her feel stimulated throughout the day.
Looking for more holistic ways to improve your pet’s health and wellness?
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